Acolyte — Entropy
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a definition of the word texture is: "The texture of a piece of music is a feature of the way it sounds, based on how the different instruments mix their parts and the speed at which they play."
This album is all about textures. And I just love the way it sounds!
Hailing from Melbourne, Acolyte released their debut album, Shades Of Black in 2016. I'd like to say that I recognised and hailed their potential five years ago. But I didn't. Entropy has been my introduction to this band.
The first thing to note, is that this album has been three-and-a-half years in the making. The quintet of Morgan-Leigh Brown (vocals), Brandon Valentine (guitars), David Van Pelt (keyboards and synthesisers), Jason Grondman (bass), and Chris Cameron (drums) have clearly poured their hearts and souls into its creation; tweaking every little detail until they are 100% happy with the end result.
The use of award-winning producers Prasheen Naran and Forester Savell (Karnivool, Dead Letter Circus) has resulted in an immaculate presentation, surrounded by eye-catching artwork and imagery.
The second thing to note is that it consists of four long songs, one short song, three that act as intermezzos and a short prelude. That is important in giving this album its specific texture and feel.
Equally relevant to the flow that this album achieves, is that it is very much a concept album. In the words of vocalist Morgan-Leigh Brown: “Entropy is a fully-realised conceptual record exploring the early stages of 'loss'. Presented like diary entries, the record ebbs and flows through an array of actions, feelings and emotions that are commonly experienced when trying to ground oneself, all while carrying the early weight of trauma.”
Needless to say, it's an album that rewards all-in-one listens. Coming in at just under an hour, that is not too heavy a commitment to make.
I shall pick out a few highlights.
The title track is the perfect blend of heavy and light, where the carefully-placed brightness of the synths offers the prefect blend with the more crunchy guitar riffs.
Resentment is the sole compact-yet-fully-developed 'song', and a fantastic showcase for Morgan-Leigh Brown's forceful yet soulful vocals. I love it!
The pair of delicate instrumental melodies that run throughout Clarity are a delight. As is the way that Brown's higher-pitched vocals are blended with those of guest singer Ben Rechter (Circles). The song has an amazing, evolving dynamic that makes it the most successful track on the whole album. Every little detail is perfectly placed. The synth solo just makes me feel happy.
Idiosyncrasy is where that extra investment that I mentioned at the start, more than pays off. The addition of (real) flute, double bass and clarinet add epic depth, enhanced by the middle eastern flavours of the percussive and vocal patterns. There is a cinematic scale to the imagery created by this song that just gets me hooked every time I play it; and I have played it a lot.
Acceptance brings everything to a perfect conclusion.
Acolyte are often categorised under the 'progressive-metal' heading. That, I feel, is a mis-direction.
Yes, there is a metallic touch to the guitars, and the music occasionally gets head-bangingly heavy. Equally, the broad brush strokes of keys and synths give it a very classic prog feel. There is a wealth of other influences; from soul, to folk and electronia.
I'm guarded to offer comparisons to other bands, as overall this is a pretty unique sound. If pushed, then a thoughtful blend of Riverside, Muse and Voyager would be my best offering.
On Entropy the band has captured the perfect balance between the heavy and the atmospherically-light. Most impressively, it has encapsulated the conceptual storyline of 'loss', through its ever-changing flow of brightness and darkness.
Entropy is one of those albums where simple classification does the band's artistic endeavour a serious injustice. The music here is powerful and exploratory. It's a crafted blend of many shades of classic and modern progressive rock. It is highly original, yet accessible. It is truly memorable and perfectly executed.
It will appeal to fans of progressive metal for sure, but anyone who enjoys progressive music with a disparate dynamic should be putting Entropy at the top of their 'I must check this out' list.
For me this will be a Top 5 album of the year, without question.